Officers in Dallas, Texas, will enforce a “no indecent exposure” policy at the city’s Pride event this weekend, organisers and local police chiefs have said.
Controversy has been ignited this week after organisers reminded participants about the need for the event to be family-friendly and said nudity and lewd behavior will no longer be tolerated.
According to the official Pride Parade Rules: “In accordance with the city of Dallas public nudity ordinance, parade participants must not expose genitalia, buttocks, or female breasts.”
The rules added: “In accordance with state of Texas obscenity law, sexual paraphernalia, real or simulated sex acts and genital or phallic representations are prohibited from the parade.”
Michael Doughman, Executive Director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, which hosts the parade, called the controversy “much ado about nothing,” as the rules have always been in place, just not well enforced.
He referred to behavior that crossed the line in past years, such as a dancer on a parade float who had an erection. Mr Doughman said that the underwear “was wet so spectators could see right through it.”
The announcement has split opinion within the local gay community. LGBT Activist Daniel Scott Cates wrote that: “The ‘queer’ is effectively being erased from our pride celebration in favor of the most polished, heteronormative representation of our community possible. It should be noted that the rioters at the Stonewall Inn fought to break OUT of the damn closet!”
Gay activist and blogger John Aravosis disagreed, saying: “I’ve never understood the need to get naked (literally, or virtually) during Pride parades.
He added that he found it “inappropriate for a public parade, and I have a difficult time understand the connection between our fight for civil rights and [an] idiot on the float.”
Jeremy Liebbe, an openly gay detective sergeant who will oversee 95 officers that day, says his goal is to have “zero enforcement action taken.”
He said: “We’ve had some issues in the past that have been brought to our attention, and our goal is to take a preventative measure. These are rules and laws that have already been in place. This is just the first year we have done an overt preventative reminder on this particular issue.”